University Of Central Lancashire, UK
Located in Ho Chi Minh City, the Saigon Education Village targets to solve many ongoing crisis in Vietnam: Air Pollution, Education, Homelessness, etc. Furthermore, the design of the project translate the ambition of a Bamboo School and Research Facility.
After the conceptualisation and experimentation of the structure, the final composition alternates Bamboo Gridshells and Columns blooming from the combination of traditional construction systems and joinery innovations. Other architectural subjects tackled in this project relates to the boundaries between Inside and Outside and the idea of a Circular Frame.
The project blooms in the middle of a duality of influences:
1 - Adjacent Parks
2 – Contrasted Archetypes surrounding the site
The Building Technology of the Saigon Education Village targets a sustainable design combined with an innovative structural system almost fully made out of Bamboo.
The final outcome of this project is to tackle major crises but furthermore, puts into question the following topics:
Interior / Exterior Boundary: Architecturally defining a Space relates to the attribution of boundaries to the Space: Comprehension of the Space as an enclosed component
The Design of the Village is composed with Bamboo pieces where not a single ‘room’ is fully closed by a solid surface. The reflexion put forward through this argument relates to the comprehension of the Space not thanks to walls (boundaries) but other forms of encloure; i.e.: Playground, Nature and Architecture.
The Frame as Architecture: Instead of using the Frame as a Tool to generate Architecture, the Frame becomes the main component of the Design; not an element anymore but the Architecture itself.
The Idea of a Circular Frame: The Frame as a structure holding a building, the Frame as a scaffolding generating the building; it is most of the time, an orthogonal component. The dialogue in this project challenges a balance between a Circular Plan and an Orthogonal Structure.
Enzo could you start by giving us an introduction about yourself, where you have studied, what stage you are in your architectural career/degree?
My name is Enzo Vellin I was born in Tamarin (Mauritius). I’m currently in the process of graduating from a BSc (Hons) in Architecture at the University of Central Lancashire’s Grenfell-Baines Institute of Architecture. I am 21 years old and only moved from Mauritius to the England three years ago to study Architecture.
I am currently in the beginning of my Year Out where I look forward to really experience life in the architectural practice before I enrol in a Master’s degree (in England probably) next year.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
I always found myself making models or drawings as I was a child and it never stopped. I guess I have always been attracted to the idea of a profession where you can actually create a physical manifestation of your ideas.
Moreover, I have studied in a French System where my last two years of college where Science Focused with my main subjects being Mathematics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Therefore, this combination of Art and Science as Architecture could only be the way to practice both.
You have chosen to situate your project in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, what persuaded you to position your project in this location?
In December 2017 I travelled around Vietnam for holidays but more importantly to discover the culture and architecture of this community. At that time I was still figuring out the subject of my Final Degree Project. As I was walking in Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in my life, it was obvious that there were clearly exciting opportunities to stimulate my architectural motivations.
The following publication depicts my analysis and experimentation of the country but also the journey from the first sketch to the final result:
The designs structure consists of Bamboo grid shells and columns was there any particular reason or inspiration behind this?
The original reason was to challenge myself, but furthermore because I have always been attracted to Bamboo and was happy to finally get the chance to analyse and experiment this material.
There are many projects integrating Bamboo Architecture, from vernacular architecture in traditional housing systems in Colombia, Vietnam or Zambia to contemporary use from architects such as Shigeru Ban Architects, VTN Architects, IBUKU.
But a major inspiration was the Bamboo City composed of a modular bamboo structure from Penda Architecture. The combination of traditional construction and innovative structural modules is fascinating.
In the description of your project you explain that your project addresses key issues in Vietnam that are; Air Pollution, Education and Homelessness, what methods did you implement to achieve this?
One of the main advantages of using Bamboo as the main material is its great capability of absorbing Carbon Dioxide (CO2), considerably more significant than any other Construction Material. Furthermore, the Village features a Research Facility targeting the investigation of innovative sustainable strategies, notably using Bamboo.
Education and Homelessness are both tackled through the conceptualisation of the Design: the Village features 3 Homeless Refuges and the ground floor emphasises the Kindergarten and Primary School.
A lack of trust towards the government causes the Vietnamese Education System to be at its most critical point at the moment. For this reason an alternative Schooling System is proposed: The Village focuses on workshops, less theoretical training and more real life application exercises, re-introduction of the traditional Vietnamese Culture and Awareness of endangered wildlife.
What were the challenges of understanding and learning the process of bamboo construction?
I have to say that comprehending the Bamboo was the most difficult task of this project.
Two publications which greatly contributed to the learning outcomes are New Bamboo Architecture and Design, by Marcelo Villegas and the material experimentations from the office of Shigeru Ban Architects.
From simple models using Bamboo Skewers to complex Stress Tests assessing the limits of this material, the final outcome is defined through the blooming columns combining traditional construction techniques with innovative joinery.
What are your thoughts on this and similar vernacular construction techniques that are starting to be re-introduced into architectural design as sustainable initiatives?
I am happy to see that there are constant alternatives and innovations regarding materiality in Architecture.
Concerning this re-introduction of Vernacular Architecture, the sustainability and efficiency of this type of construction has been proven over the years because of its contribution to the local requirements and not by responding to an architectural brief.
This style of Architecture is to my mind the most cultural and local, I just hope that a re-introduction would not spoil the original aesthetic qualities and spatial functionalities of this construction.
Your drawings are represented in a post digital style, has anybody or anything in particular inspired your graphical style?
I used to be very interested in the realistic renderings type, but I found myself spending hours correcting each element’s lighting or texture and I was not very productive (considering the amount of hours spent waiting for Rhino or V-ray to finish the render).
But then I tried the Post-Digital/ Collage style on top of a simple 2d export from SketchUp and I was considerably more productive. It’s a very efficient way to integrate my aesthetic style and personality in an architectural drawing.
Could you provide our readers with an insight into your drawing process, do you use a particular software to produce your drawings?
As I mentioned in the previous question I use SketchUp and Rhino. I can either export a material override from V-ray to get the shadows and shade or just use the lines from a 2d viewport or Make2D which can be done in both software.
The most time consuming task is obviously Photoshop. I use a lot of textures and cad blocks in order to get the clean and sharp linear quality I’m aiming for.
If you could offer one piece of advice to our architecture student followers what would it be?
One of my advice would be to get out of the classroom and experience architecture to its fullest. I believe that travelling to different countries, meeting contrasting societies and carefully analyse the space surrounding us contribute greatly to the creative process and content originating any project.
Another advice which can be complicated considering the workload in Architecture, is to read as much as you can; Essays and Books have delivered significant amount of information and content to the Design Process, Creativity and Outlook of my projects.
Finally, where can people find out more about you and your projects?
You can find a few projects responding to the briefs given from my Degree on my personal website: enzo-vellin.format.com/
In addition, the Grenfell-Baines Institute of Architecture is hosting a Summer Degree Show in Preston (UK) on the 15th June.
I have also co-founded a Music & Art Collective in Mauritius called The Primative Ö where my current role is to overlook the entire process of designing an Event: from the Dancing Area, Rest Area to Architectural Pieces and Exhibitions; it is very exciting to physically design and compose an event when we look at the final result.
This collective brings Art & Community together and everyone is very committed. I’m sure that soon enough, all the hard work it will pay off.